Recorded since 1340, from Old French preterit (13th century), from Latin praeteritum (as in tempus praeteritum (“time past”)), the past participle of praetereō (“I go by, go past”), itself from praeter (“beyond, before, above, more than”)
(comparative of prae (“before”)) + itum (the past participle of eō (“I go”)).
preterite (not comparable)
- (grammar, of a tense) showing an action at a determined moment in the past.
- Belonging wholly to the past; passed by.
- Things and persons as thoroughly preterite as Romulus or Numa.
preterite (plural preterites)
- (grammar) The preterite tense, simple past tense: the grammatical tense that determines the specific initiation or termination of an action in the past.
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